Tribune sale: Is it really over? This morning's coverage, especially in the NYT, suggests that there might be some interest in raising the bid for Tribune. The focus is on Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, who had their unnamed mouthpieces tell folks that "they are continuing to study the opportunity." If they do make a move, it will probably be through Tribune and not Zell - at least according to Zell's interview with the Chicago Tribune. Zell claims that Broad had sought him out as a partner, but then betrayed him with an 11th hour attempt to take the company (at least that's his story). "If somebody calls me and says, 'I want to be your partner,' and the next day tries to stick a knife in my back, tell me again why I would want to do business with him," Zell said in the interview. No comment from Broad. There's also lots of talk about interested buyers of individual Tribune assets - most especially David Geffen and the LAT.
So what about Geffen?: Well, he's popping up in a bunch of stories this morning. The LAT went so far as to have a tax expert plow through the ways in which he could take control of the paper without adverse tax consequences (but why was it buried on P7 of the Business section?). Zell himself said he had dinner with Geffen once and couldn't get a read on him, other than he's "a delightful character." As for any deal with him for the LAT, Zell said it's "not a question I can answer," which is vague enough to keep the story going (and to keep the LAT rank-and-file quivering). A Geffen representative told the NY Post that there haven't been any discussions on a partnership.
Subprimers lose auditor: Grant Thornton has resigned as outside auditor to Santa Monica-based Fremont General and San Diego-based Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. All the firm would say is that the resignations came "as a result of the recent significant events" and "changes in the environment." Given the messiness of the subprime business these days, auditors might not be willing to sign off on the adequacy of corporate financial statements. LAT
Air rights compromise: The L.A. City Council amended its earlier approval for offering downtown developers air rights above the Convention Center. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa likes the idea of opening up downtown to more building, but vetoed the measure because he wanted more of a say in what went up. The air rights law would allow the city to sell 9 million square feet of space over the Convention Center. LAT
Apartment rents jump: Occupancy rates top 97 percent in most parts of L.A. County, according to a report being released by the Lusk Center for Real Estate at USC. That's considered capacity. Rents increased by an annual 5.6 percent in 2006. Expect the numbers to rise as more subprime borrowers are forced out of their homes. Daily News
Oil peak expected in 2020: Actually, peak production levels of 950 million barrels daily are expected to last through mid-century before tapering off, according to geologists meeting in Long Beach. That should provide plenty of time to come up with alternative energy sources. "The peak in world oil production is not imminent, but is nevertheless foreseeable," said Richard Nehring, an independent petroleum geologist who addressed the conference Tuesday. "Ultimately, world oil production decline will be inescapable in the latter half of the 21st century." Press Telegram